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30th Anniversary Edition. Written in a fast-paced thriller style, The Goal, a gripping novel, is transforming management thinking throughout the world. It is a book to recommend to your friends in industry – even to your bosses – but not to your competitors. Alex Rogo is a harried plant manager working ever more desperately to try improve performance. His factory is rapidly heading for disaster. So is his marriage.
He has ninety days to save his plant – or it will be closed by corporate HQ, with hundreds of job losses. It takes a chance meeting with a professor from student days – Jonah – to help him break out of conventional ways of thinking to see what needs to be done. The story of Alex’s fight to save his plant is more than compulsive reading. It contains a serious message for all managers in industry and explains the ideas, which underline the Theory of Constraints (TOC), developed by Eli Goldratt.
One of Eli Goldratt s convictions was that the goal of an individual or an organization should not be defined in absolute terms. A good definition of a goal is one that sets us on a path of ongoing improvement.
Pursuing such a goal necessitates more than one breakthrough. In fact it requires many. To be in a position to identify these breakthroughs we should have a deep understanding of the underlying rules of our environment. Twenty-five years after writing The Goal, Dr. Goldratt wrote Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. In this article he provided the underlying rules of operations. This article appears at the end of this book.
Like Mrs. Fields and her cookies,The Goal was too tasty to remain obscure. Companies began buying big batches and management schools included it in their curriculums. Fortune Magazine
A survey of the reading habits of managers found that though they buy books by the likes of Tom Peters for display purposes, the one management book they have actually read from cover to cover is The Goal. The Economist
“Goal readers are now doing the best work of their lives. Success Magazine
A factory may be an unlikely setting for a novel, but the book has been wildly effective.: Tom Peters
Required reading for Amazon’s Management.
Review of The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt PDF
“A survey of the reading habits of managers found that though they buy books by the likes of Tom Peters for display purposes, the one management book they have actually read from cover to cover is The Goal.” — The Economist
“Anybody who considers himself a manager should rush out, buy and devour this book immediately. If you are the only one in your place to have read it, your progress along the path to the top may suddenly accelerate…one of the most outstanding business books I have ever encountered.” —Punch Magazine
“Like Mrs. Fields and her cookies, The Goal was too tasty to remain obscure. Companies began buying big batches and management schools included it in their curriculums.” —Fortune Magazine
“This theory provided a persuasive solution for factories struggling with production delays and low revenues.” —Harvard Business Review
Eliyahu M. Goldratt was an educator, author, physicist, philosopher and business leader, but first and foremost, he was a thinker who provoked others to think. Characterized as unconventional, stimulating, and “a slayer of sacred cows,” he urged his audience to examine and reassess their business practices with a fresh, new vision.
Dr. Goldratt is best known as the father of the Theory of Constraints (TOC), a process of ongoing improvement that continuously identifies and leverages a system’s constraints in order to achieve its goals. He introduced TOC’s underlying concepts in his business novel, The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, which has been recognized as one of the best-selling business books of all time. First published in 1984, The Goal has been updated three times and sold more than 7 million copies worldwide. It has been translated into 32 languages.
Heralded as a “guru to industry” by Fortune magazine and “a genius” by Business Week, Dr. Goldratt continued to advance the TOC body of knowledge throughout his life, building on the Five Focusing Steps (known as the process of ongoing improvement or POOGI) with TOC-derived tools such as Drum-Buﬀer-Rope, Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) and the Thinking Processes. He authored ten other TOC-related books, including four business novels.
Born in Israel on March 31, 1947, Dr. Goldratt earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Tel Aviv University, and a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy from Bar-Ilan University. He is the founder of TOC for Education, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing TOC Thinking and TOC tools to teachers and their students, and Goldratt Consulting. In addition to his pioneering work in business management and education, Dr. Goldratt holds patents in a number of areas ranging from medical devices to drip irrigation to temperature sensors. He died on June 11, 2011, at the age of 64.
I am reading this having already read Gene Kim’s “The Phoenix Project.” As you might expect, I am in IT – so why read this? In short, I think the novel does a fantastic job of introducing the down-sides of “Taylorist” management approaches, even in manufacturing, which is what Taylorism was developed for in the first place. By presenting the material in the form of a novel with a clear narrative path, it presents the basic ideas and some of their most important implications in an easily-digested and enjoyable way. The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt PDF
You can then go on and read some of the excellent nonfiction literature on Lean that is targeted at your type of business and start with a intuition about where things can go, making that literature easier to digest and understand. (As an example, I read Reinertson’s excellent “Principles of Product Development Flow” before reading this. I understood in an “I can apply these ideas” way about 30% of the work, and kinda-sorta got the rest. AFTER reading this book and seeing a bigger picture, much more of his theory makes sense to me in a way that I can actually use it now.)
The book has a few dings against it – mostly simply that it is dated. The deteriorating relationship with his stay-at-home wife is realistic for the time in which the book was written – but it smacks of 1986 now. (This from a guy who got married in 1986…) While it is a bit of a distraction, it does help the book make the point that improving things at work in the right way can and does improve people’s outside-of-work lives in very real ways. You will not get that empathetic viewpoint from the nonfiction literature on the subject, so the inclusion is still a strength – it is just that the content has not aged all that well. The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt PDF
On the positive side, it swings into other ideas too. The discussion of how traditional accounting rules and consequential financial controls can create a set of counterproductive incentives is telling, and presages by a couple of decades the work being done now in the Beyond Budgeting movement. So it is a great jumping-off point for that too.
Both this book and “The Phoenix Project” are pretty easy reads. If you gun through both over a weekend or two you will be able to see how the principles of Lean developed in manufacturing can be applied to other kinds of work.
Review of The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt PDF
Everyone can spot a myriad of problems within any business and in too many cases people try tackling all of them. This amounts to a huge game of ‘whack a rat’, that circus game where plastic rodents appear out of holes and you bash them with a big rubber hammer to make them go away. Only each time you get rid of one rat, or problem, another appears from a different hole and before long there are loads of problems springing up all over the place. You end up running round in circles trying to fix a never ending growing list of problems. Sound familiar? The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt PDF
The Goal is a business novel set at a manufacturing plant. Don’t let this put you off if you’re in a business or department that doesn’t manufacturing! The physical nature of the problems described in the book helps you to visualise the core message that Goldratt’s putting across: The Theory of Constraints (TOC) in which any system can be viewed as a ‘chain’ and somewhere in that chain is a weak link that limits the throughput of the entire system. Using TOC to correctly identify the weak link, or ‘constraint’, is a vital first step to solving a multitude of problems.
The book goes on to explain how to work with the constraint from a holistic perspective enabling you to focus your activities where they will have the highest possible beneficial impact on your business for the least amount of effort. In other words, TOC tells you which rat to whack! The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt PDF
I’ve now encountered a few people who’ve read this book and somehow come away with the impression that it’s telling you to focus on local optima -this is certainly not the case. If, after reading the book, you have this view then I’d highly recommend reading The Logical Thinking Process by Dettmer.
TOC in itself is obvious – once you understand it. You’ll wonder how you managed to get anything done in the past and recount countless unnecessary endeavours that you would have avoided had you known about TOC sooner.
Other highly recommended books include:
* Goldratt – It’s Not Luck (sequel to The Goal)
* Goldratt – The Choice – the simple reasoning that underpins both TOC and also The Logical Thinking Process
* Dettmer – The Logical Thinking Process – one of the greatest works on TOC and TLTP in my opinion
* Various authors – Velocity – great explanation of how to make Lean and Six Sigma deliver results by focussing them with TOC
* Klarman – Release the Hostages – one of the few service orientated TOC books I’ve found
But before reading any of those, start with The Goal – it’s a great introduction to TOC.
About the Author
Eliyahu M. Goldratt is an internationally recognized leader in the development of new business management concepts and systems, and acts as an educator to many of the world’s corporations.